It was a chilly Saturday morning, but the 16 Kent State University Geology Department students, who are members of the University’s chapter of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, caravanned to a PDC Utica well pad on the outskirts of Cambridge for a tour.
OOGA President David Hill extended the invite to them as he concluded his talk with the department facility, staff and current students recently on the main campus of Kent State. Hill was asked to speak about the current state of the industry and what current students should expect to experience when they graduate. He shared with them that the industry is down but not out and that it will bounce back, and when it does there will be positions of all kinds waiting to be filled. As he explained, “not everyone has the intestinal fortitude and the willingness to be relocated throughout their career, but if you do this could be a great opportunity for you upon graduation.”
During the hour long presentation, David shared with everyone his personal experience in the industry with details about how and why he got started and what he has seen over the years. To hammer this point home he said, “this industry is second only to NASA in our use of technology, and it is always changing and always improving.” David went on to explain the various careers in the industry and what type of education and training is needed to fill those positions.
At the conclusion of his prepared remarks, began the question and answer session that promoted various questions about production in Ohio, to that word that seems to be on everyone’s mind these days, “fracking.” It was at this point the idea of an up-close and personal tour was mentioned. There was no hesitation from David and he could barely keep his excitement contained and said, “Absolutely! We want you all to come down and see what we do and how we do it!”
David arraigned for a tour of a Utica production pad, a Clinton production well and his own Underground Injection Control (UIC) well. With each visit the students became more and more engaged in the discussion and each site lasted longer and longer as the questions kept popping up. By late afternoon the tour had concluded so David took everyone out to lunch to keep the conversation going. It was at lunch that we heard that of all the field tours they had taken as a group, this was by far the most interactive and interesting.
As lunch was winding down and the group started to make their way back to campus, David pulled me aside and said that he really enjoyed the day and explained that “this is what we have to do to gain the interest of the next generation and to build defenders of the industry, we have to show them, explain to them and let them see the value in what it is that we do. It is what makes me, and someday them, proud of the work.”
After everyone said their goodbyes and shared their thanks, I jumped in my own car and started to make the trek back home. I reflected thinking how proud I was to be an alumni of Kent State (Go Flashes!) and proud of the interest that was shared among the new group of friends we had made—it was great day.